BIG HIT project Creates Exemplar ‘Hydrogen Islands’ Energy System for Orkney

Today the official opening of the FCH JU- funded BIG HIT project took place in Kirkwall, the Orkney Islands, bringing together communities, industry, and politicians who are all working together to deploy one of Europe’s leading energy systems. This will enable more renewable energy to be produced and used locally in the Orkney Islands of Scotland and also support similar deployments more widely.

This ‘Building Innovative Green Hydrogen Systems in an Isolated Territory’ (BIG HIT) project is a major first step towards creating a genuine hydrogen territory in the Orkney Islands. BIG HIT has been widely recognised as the leading project of its kind in Europe. It is a five-year project, involving 12 participants based across six EU countries, funded by the FCH JU. The Orkney Islands of Scotland were chosen for this development because of the need to store excess renewable energy and utilise the stored energy locally for transport and heat.

The BIG HIT project provides a blue print for renewable hydrogen deployment for island systems and new hydrogen territories. This will benefit communities and businesses who want to use more locally generated renewable energy. The Orkney Islands have over 50 MW of installed wind, wave and tidal capacity generating over 46 GWhr per year of renewable power and has been a net exporter of electricity since 2013. Energy used to produce the hydrogen for BIG HIT is provided by the community-owned wind turbines on the islands of Shapinsay and Eday, two of the islands in the Orkney archipelago. At present the Shapinsay and Eday wind turbines are often ‘curtailed’, losing on average more than 30% of their annual output, limited by grid capacity restrictions in Orkney. This wasted energy from the locally owned Shapinsay wind turbine will be used by the BIG HIT project to produce renewable hydrogen using a 1 MW PEM electrolyser supplied by ITM Power. Storing excess renewable energy as renewable hydrogen in this way increases the utilisation of the installed wind capacity without the need to reinforce the grid connection.

BIG HIT and Surf ‘n’ Turf initiative are both recognised as world leading pilot and demonstration projects, which put in place a fully integrated model of hydrogen production, storage, transportation and utilisation for low carbon heat, power and transport


To read the full press release, click here.